Bucks Montgomery Physician Summer 2021 - 15

ered writing down my thoughts, but mostly I scrolled on my
phone and strategized about what to do if the schools didn't
open in the fall.
In the end, the kids stayed home with a sitter, and I started my
new job. It was still primary care, but with a lighter patient load
and longer visits. I now partnered with scribes to help with
notes, had much less time on call, and more support f or the
phone messages, paperwork, and other demands of practice.
It was odd to work behind a mask and f ace shield, meeting
coworkers and patients without seeing their whole face. Odder
still was having more time in this slower job and slower world
to ask and really listen: " how are you doing? " I learned of patients'
passions for birdwatching, singing, collecting Christmas
tree ornaments. I waited while they brought up video clips of
grandchildren on their phones for me to coo at. We discussed
dinner ideas and last-trips before the pandemic. I heard about
home blood pressure and sugar readings, but also about stalled
dreams and absent family members. Less time hunched over
a computer made me feel human again, and I was able to get
back to seeing my patients as full humans as well.
I think I provided better care. I know I was a better person.
At home, I continued gardening and exploring new recipes,
hiking with my family and even, just a bit, to write for my own
enjoyment.
This Spring, shortly after I received my Moderna vaccine, the
book Becoming Doctors 25 Years Later came out. I read the
stories of my fellow medical journeyers. I voyeuristically l
earned what had gone right and wrong in the author's careers
and home lives. I absorbed tales of professional satisfaction
and personal tragedies. I related so much t o their expressions
of the huge rewards and privileges of a life in medicine, as well
as the pressures and sacrifices.
Over Zoom, I met some of my co-authors. I felt immediate
connections to these people who had bared themselves, 25
years ago and in the present day. Several pieces in the original
anthology had involved gross anatomy, and it occurred to me
that this class is a stark turning point, when commitment t o
medicine becomes real, when we join a unique club of people
who forever after live with constant awareness of the ever-lurking
nature of sickness and mortality.
We now stand at another inflection point in our lives, as we
emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic. When the world shut
down, we entered a new global club of uncertainty, fear, and
death. We also witnessed astonishing bravery from medical
personnel, great acts of humanity from neighbors and communities,
and miraculous scientific and logistical progress as the
vaccines were produced and distributed. Massive change is not
easy, but it is possible. It is time to reinvent American medicine
so that patients can be truly heard and doctors can have the
time and mental bandwidth to listen. We can not continue to
dissect real patient lives down to mere ICD codes at the end of
an EMR note.
I hope I will come out of this time inoculated with a new sense
of purpose and connection to my colleagues and the people
that I serve. I hope that I can continue to thrive as the living,
breathing, physician that I am still becoming..
I am an internist at Oak Streethealth in Wyncote, PA. Becoming
Doctors 25 Years Later edited by Par Bolina is available on
Amazon.
BUCKS AND MONTGOMERY COUNTY MEDICAL SOCIETIES 13

Bucks Montgomery Physician Summer 2021

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